By Jonathon Clarke.
As everyone knows, pharmacy has become a competitive industry. With 200+ students graduating from both QUB and UUC combined each year, it is getting more and more difficult to find a job.
First things first: preparation is key!
Research the company you are interviewing for – know their mission statement and core values.
Review the job specification. Job specifications are the starting point used by employers to create interview questions so can really help you prepare for your interview..
Be prepared to sell yourself. Write down a list of your knowledge, skills and experience that will make you good for the job. Read over and say it out loud prior to the interview.
Practise, practise, practise. Write down potential questions you might be asked and answers to go with them.
Next: the questions. Here’s a list of some of the different types of questions you may be asked:
The selling yourself question:
Examples: ‘Tell me what makes you the most suitable candidate for this job?’, ‘What knowledge, skills and experience do you have to make you right for this job?’, ‘Which three words best describe you?’
Competency-based questions: Questions about teamwork, responsibility, dealing with conflict, your career motivation, decision making, communication, leadership, trustworthiness, ethics and problem solving.
-Examples: ‘Tell me about a time when you have dealt with conflict.’ ‘Tell me about a time you implemented a change.
Clinical scenarios: these are the questions to show your clinical skills. Imagine the scenario actually happened to you in your pre-reg year or on a locum shift. Go through exactly what you would do from start to finish.
Examples include: ‘You have noticed a significant medication interaction on a prescription- what do you do?’ ‘A patient keeps returning to the pharmacy to buy over the counter painkillers – what do you do?’
Trick questions: Sometimes employers can use trick questions to see how you can handle pressure.
Examples include: Do you have any salary expectations for the role? Never quote a number as by doing so you can restrict yourself
Can you name your three strengths and weaknesses? Everyone has weaknesses, but the best candidates are always able to turn their weakness into a positive.
-Example? My personal weakness is that I am a perfectionist, however this guides me daily as I always strive to be the best.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? Obviously your answer should depict a higher progression role within the company and not anywhere outside it.
Other top tips:
Dress to impress. It is important that you dress smartly as this is one of the first things that an employer will notice about you. And don’t forget to smile!
Plan ahead. Know where you’re going and leave yourself enough time to get there. Make sure you have everything with you that you need, eg, CV, certificates etc.
Ask questions – this will make you seem much more interested in the post.
Ask for feedback – no matter how the interview went – this ensures you will always be better next time around.
Jonathon Clarke,
Pharmacist Founder,
Locate a Locum (An online platform connecting pharmacists with employers)
For full article see Pharmacy in Focus issue 115.

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